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Climate

Coastal Flooding X-Factor: Natural Climate Patterns Create Hot Spots of Rapid Sea Level Rise

By Arnoldo Valle-Levinson and Andrea Dutton

For Americans who live along the east and Gulf of Mexico coasts, the end of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season on Nov. 30 was a relief. This year forecasters recorded 17 named storms, 10 of which became hurricanes. Six were major hurricanes (Category 3 or stronger), and three made landfall: Harvey in Texas, Irma in the Caribbean and Florida, and Maria in the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. It was the most costly season ever, inflicting more than $200 billion in damages.

Many scientists have found evidence that climate change is amplifying the impacts of hurricanes. For example, several studies just published this month conclude that human-induced climate change made rainfall during Hurricane Harvey more intense. But climate change is not the only factor making hurricanes more damaging.

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2017 Year in Review

As we look back on the most noteworthy environmental stories of 2017, one cannot help but start with the extreme weather that has caused so much destruction to so many around the globe. And with that, the year brought heightened concern for protecting our planet with focused attention on issues like renewable energy, electric vehicles and plastic pollution. And while 2017 was also marked by challenges with the U.S. pulling out of the Paris agreement and making other questionable environmental policy changes, we all enter a new year with the ability to make positive change.

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Neighborhood homes destroyed in the Thomas Fire burning in the Ventura area of California. KTLA / Twitter

Our Favorite Environmental Journalism of 2017

By Joe Sandler Clarke and Unearthed reporters

From the finest American journalism chronicling the worst excesses of the Trump administration to international stories showing the impact of climate change on the developing world, here are the stories we wish we had written this year.

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Hurricane Tree Recovery Campaign Aims to Plant 5 Million Trees in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria didn't just destroy buildings and dump several feet of water into several American communities—the powerful winds also snapped and downed innumerable trees, altering treasured landscapes.

That's why the Arbor Day Foundation launched its Hurricane Tree Recovery Campaign in an effort to help tree restoration efforts in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico following this year's string of devastating hurricanes. The program, which debuted in October, aims to plant a total of five million trees over the next five years as a way to contribute to the rebuilding efforts in the affected communities.

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A storm cell dumps rain in rural western Illinios. Tom Gill / Flickr

Extreme Storms to Multiply, Intensify Across U.S., New Simulations Suggest

By Tim Radford

For the U.S., harder rain is on the way: America's summer thunderstorms are about to get stormier. Later this century, the notorious mesoscale convective storms of middle America will not just darken skies—they will also dump as much as 80 percent more water on the farms, highways and cities of the 48 contiguous states.

Mesoscale thunderstorms cover an area of around 100 kilometers (approximately 62 miles): these have been on the increase, both in frequency and intensity, in the last 35 years and new research suggests that, as the world warms, their frequency could triple.

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Hurricane Harvey, seen from the International Space Station. Elements of this image are furnished by NASA. Irina Dmitrienko / Alamy

Climate Change ‘Tripled Chances’ of Hurricane Harvey’s Record Rain

By Daisy Dunne

When Hurricane Harvey struck Texas on Aug. 25, the state was hit by catastrophic flooding caused by record rainfall. In just three days, up to 40 inches (100 cm) of rain fell on Houston and its surrounding towns, leaving 80 dead and more than 100,000 homeless.

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Climate

CNN Shows Right Way to Report on Hurricanes and Climate Change

From the Dec. 2 edition of CNN Newsroom:

Clarissa Ward: Michael Mann is one of the country's top climate scientists. He has testified before Congress about the threat posed by climate change.

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More Harvey-Sized Hurricanes Likely to Hit Texas

By Tim Radford

The probability that some city in the U.S. state of Texas will be hit again by Harvey-sized hurricanes, rainstorms that will dump half a meter of water in a short space of time, has increased sixfold in this century and will have increased 18-fold by 2100, thanks to climate change driven by global warming.

In the late summer of 2017, Hurricane Harvey dropped 65 cms of water on the city of Houston in Texas. It was the start of the largest natural disaster in the U.S. since Hurricane Katrina pounded New Orleans in 2005. Harvey claimed an estimated 70 lives, and created more than $150 billion in damage.

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Science Democrats / Flickr

Why Honeycutt Is Such an Alarming Choice for EPA's Science Advisory Panel

By Elena Craft

Michael Honeycutt—the man set to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) prestigious Science Advisory Board—has spent most of his career as a credentialed counterpoint against almost anything the EPA has proposed to protect human health.

Fortunately, his lone voice for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality rarely carried beyond the Lone Star State. Until now.

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